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Sparks stave off Mercury, win for second straight day

Sportsnaut
Oct 2, 2020; Bradenton, Florida, USA; A game ball waits on a sanitation cart during game 1 of the WNBA finals between the Las Vegas Aces and the Seattle Storm at IMG Academy. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Nneka Ogwumike scored in double figures for the 20th time this season, pouring in 23 points as the host Los Angeles Sparks held off the Phoenix Mercury 78-75 Monday night in a Fourth of July thriller.

A clutch 3-pointer by Lexie Brown made the difference. With 2:36 left she nailed a shot from the Crypto.com logo well behind the arc to put the Sparks up 74-70, and they held on from there.

Liz Cambage finished with 19 points to help Los Angeles win its third consecutive game. Ogwumike added a game-high nine rebounds while eclipsing 20 points for the ninth time this season.

Brown scored 14 points while Katie Lou Samuelson and Jordin Canada added 10 apiece. It was the second straight night that the Sparks had five players in double figures.

Skylar Diggins-Smith paced the Mercury with 22 points. Taurasi scored 13 points and Shey Peddy and Sophie Cunningham added 10 points apiece.

In a game featuring 14 ties and 12 lead changes, the Sparks took a 56-54 lead into the fourth quarter thanks to a shot off the glass inside by Cambage with 22.5 seconds left. Taurasi tried to tie the game in the final seconds but her long 3-point attempt bounced off the rim.

Los Angeles opened the final quarter on a mission, scoring the first five points, including two off a strong move to the hoop by Ogwumike with 8:40 left. But the Mercury rallied to tie it 70-70 with just more than four minutes to play.

The Sparks were playing on back-to-back nights and this was their second game of a seven-game homestand.

The Mercury came in having won three of four.

The two teams combined for 13 turnovers in the opening period, including eight by the Sparks, and there were five ties, but the Mercury came out of the quarter with a 20-18 edge.

The Sparks saw their lead hit double digits in the second when Samuelson buried a 3-pointer with 5:14 remaining to make the score 36-26.

But that deficit didn’t faze the Mercury, who closed the half on a 10-1 run fueled by Peddy, who hit a 3-pointer with 19.8 seconds left to trim the Los Angeles lead to 41-40. The Sparks led 42-40 at the half.

–Field Level Media